Thanksgiving Dinner for about 120

There were 8 of us at table #5, talking, laughing, enjoying the happy hour before the potluck buffet started. Having such a good time we almost didn't mind that our table number was drawn last to go through the buffet line.  Not too much turkey left after the first 110 people were through.  In fact the carcasses looked like they'd been left in the desert for a week, they were so barren.  But we had our choice of hams, squashes, dressing, cranberries galore, potatoes, gravy, dozens of salads, beans, veggies and fruit.  The good thing was, we turned right around and were first in the dessert line.  I had an awesome slice of key lime cheesecake.  It went well with my Capt'n and Coke with lime.  Great to see so many friendly faces, some of whom I hadn't realized were even in the area.  As always, so many people, so little time.

Wide awake, no tryptophan here.
This is just for my relatives in the really frozen north.  I took it as I was considering a second shower before leaving for dinner, as it is also very humid.

No word from Steve for a couple of days.  I'd heard from the Captains girlfriend that they were having engine problems and were going to put into Puerto Rico to make repairs.  Knowing as I do that Steve can take apart and put together a diesel engine in his sleep, I can't imagine what could possibly be wrong that they couldn't jerryrig a temp fix.  Any hew, I've always subscribed to the 'no news is good news' magazine and am confident that they are slowly making progress toward St Thomas.


Sunset over Vero, from the cockpit, with wine.
I took the bus to the shopping area yesterday, just to see what was there.  I really was just looking, I have a 'buy one: get rid of one' rule, and don't have anything I want to get rid of at the moment.  If you haven't taken public transportation lately, let me refresh your memory, it's highly entertaining.  People will say the most personal, intimate things on their cell phones while riding on a full bus.  The woman next to me was having a very loud discussion, obviously about sex, with her boyfriend, L'roy, and was upset that I was avidly listening (it was a very long ride).  She finally turned her back to me, no easy feat in a bus seat, and said to L'roy "The woman next to me is listening to my private conversation!"  There was laughter from the entire bus, even the driver.  And from several rows back came "Hon, we all gettin' turned on heah!" 
Last night was Happy Hour at the dock and tonight I'm going to a birthday party on Blackfoot.  The social life continues and will just get busier as more boats arrive in anticipation of the Thanksgiving party next week. 


Vero Beach

The view off the stern of Vero, with  Mr Mac rafted alongside.
  About a month ago, we were having dinner with our friends, Ken and Cynthia, in Oriental.  Ken mentioned that he was helping another friend deliver a boat from Beaufort, NC, to St Thomas in the USVI's.  They needed another crew. Steve and I had a head to head in the corner and Steve was in. It meant, though, that we had to get the boat south to Florida, so as not to be freezing our tushes trying to get out of NC at the end of November when he (Steve) returned.  We did 4 days on the ICW and then jumped offshore and came to Florida.  Found out the trip was delayed because of hurricane Tomas.  Came farther south.  Found out that Steve was bumped from the trip because they found local crew and wouldn't have to buy plane tickets.  We headed to the GAM in Melbourne, which was the original plan. Got to Melbourne.  Steve got a call from the captain, was he still interested?  The local crew had backed out.  So the next day he flew out and Sunday they left the coast, heading east across the gulf stream and then south on I65.  65 is the latitude that runs north and south through the Caribbean and so many boats go that way that it's referred to as an interstate.  In all, about a 10-12 day trip.
So that left me in Melbourne all by my lonesome.  Well, except for the 15 other boats in the anchorage who were also heading south.  I jumped in line behind Mr Mac and followed them here to Vero Beach.  It's the first time I've managed the boat on my own and I had very shaky hands for the whole 2 days we took to get here, trying to remember all the things that Steve does and all the things I usually do when we get under way, turn this on, turn that off.  I was very pleased with myself when I wrapped the mooring line around the cleat here in Vero and could take a deep breath for the first time since I found out that Steve was leaving.  It's actually not such a big thing, kind of like driving to school the first time after you get your license and you think that every one is watching you.

Adjima, being very concerned about my driving.
 So Adjima and I are going to enjoy Vero Beach, or Velcro Beach as it's called, for the next 10 days.  It's so nice and the grocery and shopping are so handy and there's a free bus, people come here and never leave.  Just about everyone we know will be going through here at some time or other and I hear they have a great Thanksgiving party. Steve should get back sometime Thanksgiving weekend.


More Touring and Of Course, Good Food

Steve on the drawbridge.

 We had the chance to tour the old fort here today. It's called the Castillo de San Marcos, was built in 1672 and is now a National Monument. It was built by the Spanish, remodeled by the British and then re-redone by the Spanish. It's in remarkably good shape considering it's age. They have a great staff of park service rangers and volunteers. It's made of a local material called coquina (ko-key-na) that's actually compressed beach: shells and sand.  It was quarried on the island across the river and let dry for a year to harden so it could be cut into bricks.  It's great for withstanding cannon ball fire because it doesn't shatter, it just absorbs the cannon  ball and it doesn't burn. Because it doesn't burn, it was used for most of the buildings in St Augustine.

The cannon firing reenactment.

The coquina doesn't fare so well with all the thousands of tourists who go through.  It's fairly soft and wears down like concrete.  There are signs all over asking people not to touch, sit on or stand on the walls.  Of course, there were people all over the walls. Did I mention that they're 35 feet off the ground and 300 years old and just a little crumbly?  They need to make us tourists sign a "I will not be stupid today" pledge before entering.
Close-up of the coquina walls.

The elusive seafood market.
  I mentioned yesterday that we had chowder simmering for dinner.  It's because we finally found the seafood market that all the locals use.  We've been here a week now, so consider ourselves to be locals.  It's very hard to find unless you're in the know, there is no signage, just a bit of activity around some small trucks, that when we got closer we saw were seafood delivery trucks.
So for our $12 we had chowder and tonight we had shrimp in a white wine reduction with garlic, onions, lemon juice and butter on pasta, with a light topping of fresh grated Parmesan.


The Ancient City

We've had a couple of days to do some serious sight seeing here in St Augustine.  They pretty much claim to have the oldest of everything in the US: Oldest House, Oldest School, Oldest Catholic Church, Oldest Tour guide Still Talking, etc.  They even call the city the Ancient City. The architecture is really beautiful, the Spanish influences remind me a lot of Albuquerque, lots of terra cotta color and very shady courtyards.  (Not to throw doubt on the Tshirt makers or anything, but I think Albuquerque may be an older city.) The cool thing here is the way the color of the ocean contrasts with the city buildings.  I've always said that Albuquerque would be the perfect city if it were only on the water.  We may be close to perfection here.
Looking up the center of the 219 steps.
We went and climbed the lighthouse yesterday, all 219 steps of it.  It was really windy and a little scary at the top.  The guide said they'd measured some 50 mph gusts. The view was wonderful and even though I had to hold on pretty tight to the camera, we got some nice shots.

The view from the top.
We're off in the morning, heading toward Melbourne to see friends.  Tonight, a shrimp chowder simmers on  top of the stove and bread bakes in the oven.  It should help take the chill off a cool night.


St. Augustine

 We spent 52 hours off shore and Boom! we're back in the sun and humidity.  It's great to be back in Florida with the blue/green water and palm trees along shore.  I didn't realize I'd missed it so much until we got back.  We had a great sail from South Carolina.  A great sail consists of having nothing break and no one getting sick.  (Adjima did get a bit motion sick on the way out the inlet when we left and did do a little barfing (fortunately, it was on Steve's side of the bed)).
The most interesting part of the sail were the jellyfish we saw almost all the way down the coast.  They are known as Cannonball Jelly (for Dr. Anne: stomolophus meleagris).  They apparently are considered quite a pest by the commercial fishermen because they're so prolific and tend to clog the nets and slow down sorting times.  I also read that they're one of the least venomous of the jellyfish.  I had to scoop one out with our cat-retriever net and take a closer look.  The one I caught was as big as a softball and quite firm. We sailed through these things for more than 100 miles, there were millions.

I took a tour of what is now Flagler College, the former Hotel Ponce de Leon.  It was built in 1888 by Henry Flagler ,of Standard Oil fame.  It was built as the most exclusive of them all resort destinations, back in the day when the women were whisked away from the check-in desk in the lobby so as not to see any financial transactions, thereby saving them from going blind. It was the first building in Florida to have electricity and the second building ever done by Thomas Edison.  It's an amazing structure, Tiffany glass and murals by G.W. Menard. A lot of the original fixtures are still in place: the carved pillars and African mosaic tile floor in the lobby and the gold leaf lion heads with light bulbs in their mouths, a huge art collection.  The attention to detail was wonderful.  It's now a girls dorm on the campus of Flagler College.

We also had a chance to peruse one of sailing's meccas here in Florida, the Sailor's Exchange.  Consignment and used gear marine stores are always fun for me, you just never know what you'll find! At SE there was a huge bin of any kind of nut or bolt or screw, complete with a paddle to move the piles around. I think there is literally one of every size there, all you need is the patience to find the one you're looking for.